Manufacturers of so-called “green” or environmentally friendly products seem to be the latest to be facing difficulties in the retail sector.

A report published in Marketing Week recently argued that, in these tough economic times, many manufacturers of ‘green’ products have failed to effectively communicate the importance of sustainability; whilst similarly not being able to overcome the perception that doing your bit for the planet is in fact the more expensive alternative. With 68% of adults saying that cost is the main barrier preventing them from more sustainable living, manufacturers must find a way to alter the image of green living as expensive living*.

And this means getting into the mind-set of both the shopper and the retailer. In order to influence that shopper journey, the product must meet their needs and desires. 62% of adults say that a lack of knowledge of how to live more sustainably prevents them from doing so, clearly creating an opportunity for both manufacturers and retailers to grow the category.

But to exploit this opportunity manufacturers need a clearer understanding of how their product can grow a retailer’s share of a category. This mean investing in the research and delivering the insights needed to identify the factors that influence shoppers on their journey to the point of purchase. Failure to demonstrate this level of insight will likely achieve little success with the retailer.

For manufacturers of green products this might require shopper marketing activity centred on a few sustainable lifestyle changes, perhaps focusing on the part the product can play in reducing energy consumption and saving money; thereby helping to dispel the perception that green products are necessarily a costly choice in difficult financial times.

This level of creative category development, shopper marketing and customer management are now essential to achieving sustained retail success. An effective manufacturer will be able to show how their product improves the retailer’s category share as well as meeting the demands of the shopper.

*Source: Unilever, WRAP, The Fabian Society, The Futures Company